Almost every person who walks through the door of Aspire has one of two primary goals when it comes to their bodies – they either want to get smaller or they want to get bigger.
Regardless of which end of the spectrum your goal is, there are two things you need to be doing in order to look good naked be healthy and achieve the body you desire.
#1 – Strength Train
Yup, to both “get smaller” and “get bigger” we want to strength train to change our body composition and influence our muscle tissue.
Let’s first define strength training for this current topic as multi-joint exercises using high load and low volume AKA squatting, deadlifting, and pressing heavy shit for just a few reps.
Secondly, let’s dig deeper into the goals of “getting smaller” and “getting bigger.” 99.9% of individuals that are looking to get smaller need to lose body fat. Fat is their issue and not muscle mass. So, we need to create a program that helps them decrease fat as rapidly as possible.
Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your goals) strength training with heavy loads and low volume doesn’t make muscle grow. Strength training has benefits (next paragraph) that aid in both muscle growth and fat burning, but those reps alone won’t help the tissue grow. Instead, these low reps and high load movements increase the strength of the muscle fibers and do not cause expansion of the muscle fiber itself. Growth will occur in higher rep ranges along with proper nutrition and caloric needs.
Strength training will increase muscle building and fat burning anabolic hormones like testosterone, HGH, and HCG. It will allow you to preserve muscle while eating at a caloric deficit, also allowing for caloric needs to be increased throughout the day due to repair and maintenance of muscle tissue. More calories being burned = higher metabolic rate AKA metabolism with an end result of burning fat.
To use these hormones to shrink or grow your body, you will now need to assess your nutrition.
#2 – Eat in appropriate quantities
To reach your goals, you probably don’t need a fancy, regimented, or strict diet scheme. You need to eat appropriate quantities of calories in proper macronutrient ratios – for your goals, not anyone else’s!
Calories can be fairly simple:
Lose Weight = Calorie Deficit
Maintain Weight = Calorie Needs
Gain Weight = Calorie Surplus
Don’t make it much more complicated than this. If you want to lose body fat you need to be at a calorie deficit and if you want to gain muscle you need to be at a calorie surplus. Yes, you can gain muscle at a calorie surplus – but don’t worry about that right now, keep things simple. You also need to eat proper macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fat) to support your goals. You can begin to determine what you need by logging your food and beginning to experiment with different variables. However, meeting with a nutritionist to determine the exact numbers of your caloric intake and macronutrient demands will take a lot of the guesswork out of the equation.
To makes things even simpler – you need to eat less than what you need to “get smaller” and more of that you need to “get bigger.”
Do you feel like you are doing one of these two things pretty damn well, but not achieving the results you desire? It’s time to dig deeper and concentrate more on the one you are lacking. If you are strength training, but eating/drinking improperly, you are not going to change. Same goes the other way around about eating properly and not strength training. Period. In very few cases, we see individuals who are nailing both their strength training and their food, but still not hitting their goals. This is when we now need to look deeper into hormonal health, sleep patterns, overtraining, and additional factors such as accessory exercises during workouts.
For the vast majority of us – lift heavy shit, do not drink alcohol excessively, and eat in appropriate quantities for your life and goals. It’s that simple.
Great technique equals safer movements, increased efficiency, greater range of motion, increased neuromuscular recruitment, and better performance.
Essentially, we can look at great movement technique not as one goal of our workouts, but THE GOAL. Everything we want out of our exercises lies in doing movements properly, so why would we have it any other way?
Decrease Risk of Injury
Luckily for us, the correct way to do something is also the safest way to do something. By performing movements correctly, we are reducing our risk of injury. The worst thing for all of our goals is to be injured. Sitting on the sidelines is no way to get closer to where we want to be, so ensure you are doing everything you can to maintain proper form. If you are unsure of the right way to do something, ask your coach!
Increased Range of Motion and Recruitment of Muscle
Pushing your body through full ranges of safe motion are essential to recruit as much muscle as we can. Working through full range technique will also provide increased mobility over time. Recruiting muscle, and the target muscles for that movement, will ensure we are building up the proper muscle to maximize performance, aesthetic gains, and overall neuromuscular health.
Efficiency = Performance
If the fastest way from Point A to Point B is a straight line, why zig zag to your results? The more efficient we are with out movements, the faster we are going to get to our goals. This is the same for the beginner CrossFitters looking to decrease body fat to the elite athlete looking for a 1 kg PR in their snatch. Proper movement equates to increased performance.
One of the best things about CrossFit is that we get to constantly compare our results. This may be to others in the gym, our favorite CrossFit Games athlete, or simply ourselves. By defining movement standards based on proper movement technique, we are creating a fair baseline of athletic abilities. By performing these proper movement standards, we are ensuring fairness in what can be the most fun aspect of this fitness modality. This is important for any athlete looking to see how their fitness increases over time, but also any athlete looking to compete in online, local, or national level competitions.
Steps to Great Movement
So how do we achieve these proper movement patterns and standards presented to us? It takes time. Achieving proper form takes time, dedication, and practice. This can occur in your 60 minutes of class time, but often occurs outside of it as well. Take the time to practice technique with low heart rates, ample recovery, and either a friend, camera, or even better, a coach, to help you nail down any movements you struggle with. Mastering movements might take repetition, increased strength, increased range of motion, or all the above. It begins with dedication to the movement standards.
Sean Spire is the Owner and Head Coach of Aspire. Athletically, he enjoys lifting heavy shit, running in the middle of the day, and tough MetCons. Personally, he likes spending time with his amazing wife, Erika, and dog, Reef.